Per Michael Marot of the Associated Press, the NCAA filed an intent to appeal the ruling made on the Ed O’Bannon case with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On August 8, 2014, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilkens ruled that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by restricting schools ability to pay anything to their student-athletes beyond scholarship money, including television and video game revenue. Judge Wilkens also ruled that schools should be allowed to give football and men’s basketball players no less than $5,000 to be put in a trust fund for every year a college football and men’s basketball player is academically eligible to participate in their respective sport to be paid out upon their departure from the school. Surprisingly, after initially praising that portion of the ruling, the NCAA decided that it can make their own changes without the courts help.
NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy issued a statement outlining why they intend to file an appeal of Judge Wilkens’ ruling:
“We are appealing the Court’s decision because we do not believe the NCAA has violated the antitrust laws. In its decision, the Court acknowledged that changes to the rules that govern college athletics would be better achieved outside the courtroom, and the NCAA continues to believe that the association and its members are best positioned to evolve its rules and processes to better serve student-athletes.”
The NCAA will obviously fight any ruling that says they were wrong for doing anything (it is just good business after all), but why risk an appeal in a labor friendly court, when they can just adhere to the ruling and have colleges pay a small sum to the athletes that bring in so much revenue?
Say the final rosters of both football and men’s basketball team at Hypothetical University get paid. Say HU is an above-average Division I school (not quite Alabama, but consistently good every year) which means they get a decent amount of revenue from their athletics. If they paid every football player on their 125-man roster and the 12 players on their men’s basketball team $5,000, that would total $685,000.00. Consider that many top Division I programs make around $15-$20 million a year and it’s a manageable sum to pay to quiet a growing group of athletes demanding fair payment for the amount of money they brought in for their respective schools.
Other antitrust lawyers are saying that the NCAA appeal was necessary because it opens them up other lawsuits where other athletes from other sports are not getting paid and the NCAA loses it’s power to regulate the amount of money schools spend on their athletes. Whatever the reason for the appeal, it doesn’t look like the issue will be resolved anytime soon.